GPSolo Magazine - June 2005

ABA TECHSHOW 2005 Wrap-Up

There was much to learn at ABA TECHSHOW 2005, held March 31 to April 2 in Chicago, Illinois. This venerable legal technology program highlighted the emerging trends in law, technology, and ethics. The conference was a good mix of take-home, “put-’em-to-work” tips and techniques, along with sessions on specific software packages and hard-hitting sessions that highlighted the issues that lawyers should be thinking about—right now—in their practice.

Blogs

The number of lawyers who are “blogging”—or building a legal web log—is growing at a rapid rate. What is a web log, you ask? A web log, or “blog,” is an online journal, a web page that features up-to-the-moment developments on a topic, often combined with news feeds and commentary by the blogger. A blog bridges the gap between lawyers and clients and builds a community of interest around a given topic.

TECHSHOW featured an Interest Group Roundtable for bloggers, a bloggers dinner, and sessions devoted to blogging. In his session on marketing with technology, Larry Bodine ranked blogging as number four on his top ten tips for legal marketing.

E-Practice

E-filing, e-discovery, and e-presentations are changing the face of litigation. You may be failing to meet the emerging standard of practice if you do not consider all the issues surrounding electronic evidence: how to compel its production, how to respond to a demand for electronic evidence, how to search electronic documents, how to advise clients on preserving electronic evidence, and how to present electronic evidence in court.

TECHSHOW featured presentations on computer forensics and what actually can be unearthed as electronic evidence on hard drives, portable devices, and servers (even after files supposedly have been deleted). This is truly one area where the law and the practice are changing—rapidly—and lawyers must bring themselves up to speed or be left behind.

In his session “Avoiding Tomorrow’s Litigation Today: Document Retention Policies for Law Firms,” John C. Montaña noted the dangers of holding onto client documents that might eventually be the subject of discovery long after the file is closed. He laid out the issues involved in considering a comprehensive document retention policy for law firms to cover both paper and electronic documents, such as client documents and e-mail, that accumulate in client files.

Outstanding Presentations and Presenters

TECHSHOW is distinguished by the top quality of its speakers. Essential sessions this year included Craig Ball and his presentation on how to use PowerPoint, David Masters on Adobe Acrobat for lawyers, and the panel “60 Tips in 60 Minutes.”

New Technologies

This year the outstanding new entrant was Ixio Corporation with its product QShift. It is always difficult to describe something new and exciting—by definition you don’t have any established reference points—so let me try this: QShift combines intelligent document assembly with knowledge management. It is different again from GhostFill or HotDocs. QShift allows you to record the reason why you would select one clause over another by hypertext links to opinions, case or statute law, web pages, authors, etc. This ability to get at the “why” may be the missing link; its absence from other programs could explain why sophisticated automated document assembly never caught fire within the legal community. I have no illusions that we are looking at the final product—this is very much a work in progress. Still, it is an exciting example of the original ideas we are starting to see again in the world of legal technology after a long drought.

TECHSHOW 2005 also saw the return of an old friend: WordPerfect is back. For anyone considering upgrading word processors, Corel has introduced Word-Perfect 12, a formidable yet user-friendly competitor that can handle MS Word documents with ease.

Scary Stuff

TECHSHOW would not be TECHSHOW unless you came away amazed and slightly paranoid about what people can find out about you—on the web and on your own computer. This year was no exception. Three sessions packed in enough material to make the least fretful of us sleepless: “Cost-Effective Sleuthing on the Internet” by Carole Levitt, Mark Rosch, and Robert J. Ambrogi; “Hot Issues in Cyber Security: ID Theft, Spyware/Adware, Privacy, and the Patriot Act” by David Ries and Jeff Flax; and “Spy v. Spy—Electronic Snooping by Husbands, Wives, and Lovers” by Ben Sherwood and Sharon D. Nelson. The issues of privacy and cyber-security will continue to be major considerations for lawyers and clients in the future.

See You in 2006!

So there you have it—my highlights from this year’s ABA TECHSHOW. If you were unable to attend the show, or if you missed any of these events, all of the educational sessions at ABA TECHSHOW 2005 were recorded and are available for purchase at www.softconference.com/storefront/250331. You can choose between audio-only or audio plus presentation materials for individual sessions or for the entire conference.

And it’s not too early to start planning for next year. This is one conference where it definitely pays to attend. For more information, visit www.techshow.com.

David J. Bilinsky is the practice management advisor and staff lawyer for the Law Society of British Columbia. He can be reached at daveb@lsbc.org. The views expressed herein are strictly those of the author and may not be shared by the Law Society of British Columbia.

 

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